The Amazon Softball Club, the first and last lesbian softball club in New Zealand, has kindly donated a selection of team uniforms and ephemera to Te Papa. The Amazons formed at the height of gay liberation in 1977. The Wellington based club provided a space for lesbians to socialise, find solidarity and develop confidence in their sporting abilities.
The fight for equality and gay liberation began in the 1960s and New Zealand took major steps forward with the introduction of The Homosexual Law Reform Act in 1986 and the Human Rights Bill in 1993. The Homosexual Law Reform Act decriminalised sexual relations between men aged 16 and over. Sexual relations between women were not illegal, but lesbian women also suffered discrimination and heavily supported the reform act. The Human Rights Bill introduced in 1993 made discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity illegal, giving freedom of expression to members of the LBGT community.
The latest Marriage Equality Bill put forward to parliament by Labour MP Louisa Wall has been a hot topic of public debate in the recent weeks. This bill intends to give same-sex couples the right to a legal marriage and equal rights to adoption which are not currently allowed under the Civil Union Act. If this bill is successful it will be another step forward in the fight for equality and gay liberation.
The Amazon Softball Club is part of New Zealand’s lesbian history and over the last 30 years the club has carved out a legacy on the sport’s field as an affiliated member of the Wellington Softball Association. Competitive and social teams played against other women’s softball teams from around New Zealand. The name Amazons represents mythological female warriors and their eye-catching purple uniforms symbolised the international colour of gay pride.
One team was promoted to Major Reserve during the 1988/1989 season and became a source of pride for the lesbian community in Wellington. Among the items donated are the team’s first uniforms, knickerbockers, stirrups and also invitations and certificates from the 10 year anniversary held in Wellington in 1987. This set of items adds to Te Papa’s growing collection which represents New Zealand’s gay and lesbian social history. Unfortunately the club disbanded in 2011 due to lack of members. Amazons were a central part of the lesbian community in Wellington, which they created for themselves.
Here is a promotional video for the Amazon Softball Club, shot in 2010 by Francesca Jago that illustrates the comradeship and encouraging atmosphere team members were a part of.
Were you a member or supporter of the Amazons? What are your memories? Leave a reply below as we would love to hear about your experiences!